Ministry of Justice Sector Strategy Manager Aphra Green will soon travel to the United States on the inaugural New Zealand Harkness Fellowship to research legal decision making tools. She will look at Evidence-Based Decision-Making which harnesses data from across the States to create tools and frameworks to enable decision makers to better determine risk factors, such as the likelihood of reoffending.
Ms Green will look at the Federally-led Evidence-Based Decision-Making programme, which seeks to equip criminal justice decision makers in local communities with the information, processes, and tools that will reduce crime and reoffending.
“Key decision makers in the US criminal justice system are discussing what outcomes they want to achieve, setting targets and working together to improve decision making – and criminal justice outcomes – by using evidence and sharing practices across the US,” Ms Green says.
While it will not be a question of picking up the American tools and applying them in New Zealand, learning what is working well and how it was successfully introduced will be interesting to Ms Green. She will bring her research back to New Zealand’s justice sector.
“I’m particularly interested in looking at decision making around bail as it’s an area where it seems the US is ahead of New Zealand in using data and predictive tools to inform bail decisions. It’s also an area in which they are still innovating – so we have a lot to learn.”
Ms Green worked in the public sector, private practice and academia before deciding public sector was the place for her. She has a strong interest in policy or theory meeting practicality, how outcomes of legal process decisions impact on people’s lives and wider society.
“What I love about the law is the intricacy of the issues, the complex challenges and that the law is the primary interface between government and society. Itplays a key role in structuring society and in people’s lives even if they don’t notice it on a day-to-day basis,” Ms Green says.
“Personally, I like the challenge of the seeing two sides to an argument – sometimes more than two sides – and bringing those together, making some sense of it. In a policy context, what I enjoy is the opportunity to influence the shape of the law and the future of New Zealand through that. Working within government gives me the opportunity to be at the forefront of advising on change – sometimes quite fundamental change – to New Zealand society.”
Her current role as Sector Strategy Manager for the Ministry of Justice enables her to look across the justice sector agencies and to influence the strategic direction for the whole of the justice sector. Her team oversees a number of strategic projects including developing the justice sector’s four year plan and advising on long term, system-wide opportunities and challenges for the justice sector.